Best Love Letter to the Old, Seedy Lower East Side (2008)

Richard Price

The latest novel from beloved novelist, screenwriter (The Wire!), and generally hyper-articulate/hard-boiled badass Richard Price is technically set in 2003, but its dazzling portrayal of a rough, desperate, and quite possibly lethal Lower East Side feels distinctly pre-Giuliani in its lawless, profane seediness. Not that Lush Life, as a gritty crime procedural, is terribly over-the-top in terms of violence: Theres only one murder, quickly dealt with, the perpetrator(s) immediately identified. Its the way everyone talks, a mesmerizing mix of crass belligerence, jet-black humor, blunt wisdom, and carefully guarded compassion thats garnered Price breathless (and deserved) praise as the greatest writer of dialogue alive. (The simple, repeated utterance, Not tonight, my man takes on almost biblical power.) For those who long for the Bad Old Days of New York Cityback before it became a sanitized chain-store Disneyland, no danger, no action, no funheres a gloriously perfect time capsule/cautionary tale.

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